Why I’ve Never Made a Capsule Wardrobe

I have too many clothes.

I remember thinking this over and over again as I walked down my rickety apartment stairs towards the car. I was carrying two 50-gallon trash bags filled with clothes – and that wasn’t even all of them.

I had another 50-gallon trash bag filled with shoes upstairs waiting to be packed into the car for the move from Bloomington to Indianapolis, Indiana. I even had a couple armfuls of hanging clothes already in the car.

I estimated that my clothes weighed at least two times what I weighed – I felt so encumbered and overstuffed. That’s when I started looking into how to simplify.

Capsule Wardrobes

My first exposure to a minimal blogger

A quick Google search led me to discover my first minimalist/simple living blogger: Courtney Carver.

I started to learn about Project 333 and started to realize all the things that weren’t necessary in my closet (I had a beaded evening gown thrift store find that I just couldn’t get rid of – but never wore).

I found out about capsule wardrobes and was really excited by the idea!

Learning about capsule wardrobes

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a capsule wardrobe is when you select a certain number of items (including jewelry, accessories, etc, but excluding essentials like underwear and workout clothes) and only wear those items for a set amount of time.

It’s an excellent practice to get into when you’re trying to live with less. Although I’ve never tried it, it sounds really fun and challenging!

Here’s why I never did it

I’ve never done it because I’m (a former) packrat. I’m the “just in case” type of mild hoarder – the person who keeps notebooks for years just because they have five pages of free space.

(I guess that should be “kept”, because I finally parted with all my old high school notebooks a couple years ago. They’d been unused for ten years.)

I felt like, for me, a capsule wardrobe might encourage me to keep the hundreds of pounds of clothes just out of sight. They’d still be there, like a safety blanket (which, ironically, my “blankie” is the one childhood thing that I will not get rid of).

And it was having too many clothes that drove me crazy in the first place.

What I’ve done instead

I have taken concepts from capsule wardrobes and applied them to my everyday wear. To keep a piece of clothing, it needs to meet one (or more!)

  • It reflects my personality
  • I find it beautiful
  • It fits well, looks good, and/or feels good
  • I love wearing it
  • It has high emotional value and I still wear it
  • It’s versatile (this one is essential for me)

Notice that these are not reasons to keep clothes:

  • I got a great deal on it
  • It was a gift or hand-me-down
  • It has emotional value, but I don’t wear it and I don’t think I will
  • I’ll fit into it again someday
  • It reflected my personality at a different time in my life
  • I’ve never worn it
  • I might need it for

I’ve gone from having a packed dresser and an oversized closet stuffed with clothes to only needing two drawers and about 2 feet of space on the clothes rod.

It’s not hard! And in fact, it’s amazing – I didn’t realize how little I cared about my clothes before. Now, I cherish each item and can’t wait to wear it. I love every piece.

A note on versatility and seasonal items

“But you need to change for the seasons.”

Yes and no. If style is important to you and having cute season-specific clothes fulfills you, then by all means, wear your fall scarves and Christmas sweaters.

But a basic dress looks great in all seasons – just add leggings and cardigans when it gets cold.

My non-expert advice: stay away from super-trendy colors unless they’re really colors you love. Pick pieces you can see yourself wearing to holiday parties and to summer cookouts. If you must, choose reversible or season-less scarves and stick to neutral jewelry.

Having a lot of clothes doesn’t make you stylish. Having few clothes doesn’t make you boring. It’s all in how you wear them.

Have you tried a capsule wardrobe? What did you think?